Brendan Gallagher made his return to the Montreal Canadiens lineup Friday for the Winter Classic after missing the past 17 games due to two broken fingers, and he didn’t waste time making an impact.
In his return to action, Gallagher skated the third highest ice time among Canadiens forwards and had the primary assist on a third-period insurance goal by Montreal captain Max Pacioretty. But Gallagher's best moment of the game came at the tail end of the second period when he scored with some incredible hand-eye coordination.
The Canadiens were working the puck around the Boston zone when a cross-ice pass went from Tomas Plekanec to Pacioretty. When the puck hit Pacioretty’s stick, it popped into the air and fluttered into the air. Pacioretty reacted quickly by batting the puck toward the front of the net where it was smacked out of mid-air by Gallagher and right over the shoulder of Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask. Take a look:
When in full speed, it looks like a circus juggling act. Pacioretty’s swat is one thing, but Gallagher’s bunt past Rask was perfectly placed.
Gallagher was all over the ice in his return and was named the first star of the outing. Thanks to his goal and two points, Gallagher now has 10 goals and 21 points in 23 games this season and is scoring at a 28-goal, 59-point pace. If he keeps this up, Gallagher could surpass his career high 24-goal, 47-point season by a dozen points by season’s end.
Thanks to Gallagher’s contributions, the Canadiens won for just the third time in their past 10 games and are now back atop the Atlantic Division.